An interesting and successful year for the elea Foundation draws to a close

31 December 2014

2014 was another eventful year in the history of the elea Foundation. A short retrospect provides an insight into a year characterized by many highlights, both with regard to the scope and impact of elea's projects as well as with regard to the foundation's organizational development.

After almost seven years of operational activity, the elea Foundation now handles the whole project cycle of its investments, from initial assessment to exit. Furthermore, elea is currently preparing its first exit from an equity holding. "Through the six years of collaborative partnership, we have been able to make an effective contribution to the positive development of the company and its social impact. This means that our work was successful and we have achieved the desired results", says Andreas Kirchschläger, CEO of the elea Foundation.

There are good news from many of elea's investments: iCow in Kenya, for instance, reports substantially increased numbers of subscribers to its SMS-service. Stefan Kappeler, Project Leader, is thrilled about the impact achieved: "Several ten thousand farmers are now benefiting from this information and training service, which allows for remarkable improvements with regard to the health status, milk production and reproduction rates of cattle as well as to the efficiency and income levels of farmers". Furthermore, elea's partner company Coffee Circle from Berlin, which trades exclusive coffee from Ethiopia's mountain forests, has recently successfully launched coffee sales in Switzerland. Migros, Switzerland's largest retail chain, impressed by the high quality of this specialty coffee, has it on offer in 117 of its stores countrywide.

The elea Foundation expects to see further positive momentum in its project work over the next months. The Mom & Pop Shop project in Bolivia, the first phase of which was completed this year, has helped such a large number of people in improving their livelihoods thanks to increased skills and confidence, that elea decided to search for concrete ways to replicate this training model in other parts of the world. To this end, a project was implemented together with MBA-candidates of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne to establish the basis for a successful realization of this attractive concept in other geographies.

elea has an interesting project pipeline and conducts due diligence on a number of promising investment opportunities such as a professional training initiative for young women in Rwanda and Burundi, the establishment of a distribution network for "meaningful" products with small-scale entrepreneurs in rural India, as well as a call center training institution benefiting disadvantaged youth in the Philippines. elea team members keep on travelling regularly to poor countries to identify possibilities of cooperation with inno-vative entrepreneurs on the ground, and to assist partners with advice and practical support.

Peter Wuffli, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, notes with satisfaction that the organization's philanthropic investors‘ circle continued to grow in the past year. A particularly encouraging confirmation of the increasingly broad appreciation of elea's work is the engagement of a new philanthropic investor from the corporate world, the bank Julius Baer. At the occasion of its 125-years' anniversary, this partnership - which also foresees that Julius Baer staff members will participate in the implementation of elea projects - demonstrates the importance that Julius Baer attaches to corporate responsibility and to entrepreneurial philanthropy. The foundation has also gained a number of entrepreneurial individuals as new members of elea's investors' circle which contributes essentially to the sustainability of the organization's activities.

There are also good news to share on the organizational side. Regula Müller returned to elea in December after successfully completing an intensive one-year MBA-program in Hong Kong. Furthermore, a systematic professional development program for the Foundation's team members was launched, thus providing the basis for strengthening elea as an institution. Through the first promotion in elea's history Stefan Kappeler was appointed Project Leader. With a view to further refining the strategic direction of the elea Foundation, a study was conducted in summer on status, trends and models in the global fight against poverty, with the valuable help of an intern from the Graduate Institute in Geneva. Findings, lessons learned, and new ideas were discussed and operationalized at a strategy weekend, together with Pascal Couchepin, member of elea's "Comité de Patronage".

As the year draws to a close, Andreas Kirchschläger points out: "All our activities aim at fighting absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means. Several important steps in this direction have been made, many more need to follow".

The elea Foundation aims at achieving sustainable, positive and tangible impact which directly benefits people challenged by the globalization process. It targets the poor at the base of the pyramid through entrepreneurial philanthropic projects, aligning ideas and capital.

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